Gender Pay Gap is the difference in the remuneration of workers for the work of equal value based on the bifurcation of gender. As per the Monster Salary Index (MSI – Survey done by Monster.com in collaboration with IIM-A (sampling)) this gap is 27% in India which means for the same work a Man would get Rs. 100 & a woman – Rs 73, on absolute calculation, in 2016. According to World Bank, in developing countries if woman labour force is optimized it will add up to 1/3rd of the Country’s GDP. That’s what the power of woman labour force is – but still a distinct gap!
Formal Sector: IT services has one of the highest pay gaps with 34%, a service which has not only become a hub of Techies but also has a large share in Indian Economy. Coming to Manufacturing Sector which is believed to be male dominated, is proven by the numbers as well having highest pay gap with difference reaching 34.9%.
Banking and Financial services have always been rendered as safe harbours for women but despite of the narrative, median hourly wage for women is Rs. 266.9 whereas for men it is Rs. 316.2. Similarly, services involving Healthcare – social work, education which are considered to be working women’s forte shows yet again a higher gap with 26 & 22% respectively.
Reasons: Disparity in professional ‘work pay’ starts from the Gender Representation itself. In an organisational hierarchy of say, ‘n’ levels then close to 50% gender distribution can be found at Level 0 & 1. But as we go up, the count decreases significantly and women hardly make up to the share of 1/5th from n-3 levels i.e. Senior Executives, CxO’s, MD (Position of power and Authority) which eventually sees the maximum pay gap as well. The reasons for this gap and representation can be attributed to the phenomenon of marriage, pregnancy and children. While competing with the male counterpart women are bare open to the discrimination and are at a disadvantageous position if they happen to take time to raise family, they are given the status of caregivers and this breaks result in a general social belief that ‘commitment & efficiency’ gets divided between ‘Work and Family’.
A woman with 10 years of experience will tend to earn less than her male counterpart though they would have started at the same footing. Women happen to capture lower/mid level positions in the corporate hierarchy and once they cross the mid level, a glass ceiling is hit and their growth & development starts to shrink.
There is a stark contrast in the presumption and remuneration in Health care, Education, Social work, Education, Research, Banks though we have leading ladies from these sectors like Chanda Kochar, Arundhati Bhattacharya. These services have been traditionally associated with women and hence it diminishes there labour, quality & efforts. They are neither valued nor equally remunerated for these sectors. At the same point there is a ray of light, as the hourly wage has increased by 64 for women as compared to previous year.
Informal Sector: Women’s major occupation in informal sector includes, home based workers (dependent sub contract workers, unpaid workers in family & business)and street vendors. They work as Rag pickers, domestic workers, vendors, beauticians, Construction labourer and garment workers. Representation of women in this sector can be attributed to reasons like: Cultural norms, Religious seclusion and illiteracy along with greater family commitment which prevent them from joining formal sector. In addition to this, work in informal sector is readily available. According to a study by ILO relation between employment in informal sector & being poor is stronger in women. Men are more likely to deal in large scale operations & non perishable items while women are more likely to be involved in small scale operations & trade food items. As a result, Men over represent the top segment of the sector while women overpopulate the bottom segment & are over represented in lower income employment. One of the most basic & classic examples: In most of the houses cooking is woman’s responsibility but how many women of them turn into professional cook? Similar to other sectors when we look at the top positions – it is completely dominated by men, be it from a Dhaba to a 5 star Hotel.
As a result gender pay gap becomes even higher in Informal Sector, in numbers it is 19.78 % – ILO. According to another estimate by McKinsey women in India perform 9.8 times the amount of labour in unpaid sector either through household duties or care work, if this labour is accounted it would add to 0.3 Trillion Dollars to India’s economic output.
Agriculture: Female participation in agriculture is observed to be high, labour is sharply divided on the basis of gender in agriculture; certain activities have been specifically assigned to women like Drying & storing grain. All these add to pay gap issue & a worrying fact, as women happen to do close to 80% of the farming work – they fail to establish their identity and share a mere 18% of the land.
In 1958, India ratified the C 100 Equal Remuneration Convention (ILO) which requires all member state to direct their National laws & policies towards guaranteeing equal remuneration to all workers, regardless of Gender. In compliance to this, Government had enacted Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 which not only provides woman with a right to demand equal pay but also ensure that there is no inequality wrt recruitment process, job training, promotions, transfers within the organisations. However its scope has certain limitations wrt to law giving special treatment to women. There are constitutional protections, Directive Principles of state Policy, Article 39 which envisages that states direct their policy towards securing Equal Pay and have adequate means of livelihood. Though “Equal Pay, Equal Right” is not expressly a Constitutional right but can be interpreted via Article 14, 15, 16 which guarantee equality before law, protection against discrimination & equality in matters of public employment. There are very rare cases where it reaches court & justice is ensured. Popular Supreme court ruling for the working condition of Air hostesses is one such case. It should be brought in as a Law and heavy penalties should be drawn.
But if these constitutional protections have been enough we wouldn’t have the numbers advocating the prominent existence of pay gap. And will these laws be helpful enough to protect Equal pay right in informal sectors where illiteracy is a challenge!
Acts & Legislation like Maternity Benefit Act where a woman is liable to take 26 weeks of paid leave & 6 weeks in case of abortion; Factories Act where employers are required to provide child care for children upto 6 years at all work sites should be promoted. And adherence should be ensured constitutionally. Levels of social awareness should be increased through NGO’s esp among-st women and employers; they should be informed about such Acts, Redressal forums should be established, stronger HR policies – to be encouraged, steps should be taken to ensure family & care responsibilities are also equally divided. Increase in paternity leave and benefits can be introduced, Policies like work from Home should be promoted as part of Ancillary Legislation.
“Enable every woman who can work to take care of her place on the Labour Front, under the Principle of Equal Pay for Equal Work” – Mao Zedong